In four of the past five seasons, Central High School has entered the Central Section Division I boys soccer playoffs as a top-two seed.
The Grizzlies are putting themselves in position to receive another high playoff seed come February, with a trump card in hand after winning last weekend’s 12-team Champions Division of the Harold S. Young Tournament.
Central, which opens as The Bee’s top-ranked boys team, beat Reedley 3-1 and Stockdale 2-1 in pool play, downed reigning section Division III champion Ridgeview 3-0 in the semifinals and edged defending D-IV champ McLane in the final 3-2 on penalty kicks after tying 0-0 through regulation.
The Harold S. Young Champions Division also featured reigning section champs in Buchanan (D-I) and Mendota (D-VI).
“It’s definitely a good feeling to be able to win it,” said Grizzlies coach Raul Martin, whose team is led by midfielders Michael Arrington, Reece Rivera and Ricky Rosas. “Because it’s a really good gauge pre (league) season-wise.”
Central (5-1-1) captured the title when Rivera made his penalty kick, followed by a save from Grizzlies goalkeeper Brycen Miller.
It’s definitely a good feeling to be able to win it. Because it’s a really good gauge pre (league) season-wise.
Central boys soccer coach Raul Martin, whose team won the Champions Division of the Harold S. Young Tournament
For the girls, Clovis North (5-0-1) is atop The Bee’s section rankings after a title in the Harold S. Young 16-team Girls Division.
The Broncos beat Sanger 1-0, topped two-time defending section D-II champ Madera South 2-1 in the quarterfinals, edged reigning D-I champ Clovis East 2-1 in the semifinals and downed perennial D-I power Buchanan 5-3 on penalty kicks after tying 1-1 through regulation.
“I’m really pleased,” Clovis North coach Nick Pappanduros said. “We had some question marks coming into the season, especially in the back line with the seniors we lost. But the girls are progressing great, and to get that tournament victory means a lot.
“It gives us the confidence that we’re doing the right things and can compete with anyone. Hopefully, we can keep getting better.”
Clovis North is breaking in a new group of defenders, including Natalie Nurcanyan, CJ Fisher, Riley Prescott and Kimberly Liu. Freshman Bella Taglone has made an instant impact offensively.
While his Broncos added an important component to their playoff résumé, Pappanduros said the section’s D-I race appears wide open.
“I think there are five, six teams that are right there that on any given day can beat each other,” Pappanduros said. “There is not a clear-cut favorite.”
The Bee’s Central Section soccer rankings
(Records through Thursday)
- 1. Central (5-1-1)
- 2. McLane (5-0-3)
- 3. Buchanan (4-0-2)
- 4. Clovis (4-0-0)
- 5. Ridgeview (5-1-0)
- 6. South (5-2-1)
- 7. Golden Valley (7-1-0)
- 8. Edison (6-1-0)
- 9. Independence (4-1-0)
- 10. Sunnyside (5-1-0)
- 11. Mendota (5-1-0)
- 12. Bullard (3-2-0)
- 13. Clovis North (2-3)
- 14. Liberty-Bakersfield (1-1-2)
- 15. Golden West (5-2-0)
(Records through Thursday)
- 1. Clovis North (5-0-1)
- 2. Buchanan (4-0-2)
- 3. Clovis East (3-1-1)
- 4. Bullard (4-1-0)
- 5. Clovis (4-0-2)
- 6. Liberty-Bakersfield (4-1-1)
- 7. Frontier (2-0-3)
- 8. Central (3-1-1)
- 9. Clovis West (3-1-1)
- 10. Stockdale (3-1-2)
- 11. Madera South (2-4-0)
- 12. Independence (3-2-0)
- 13. Centennial (2-2-2)
- 14. Liberty-Madera Ranchos (2-1-0)
- 15. Hoover (6-1-0)